Conserving the RESTful ecosystem

Michael Pate has a note about a LibraryLookup tweak for version 3.0 of the Polaris system. Thanks for the heads-up, Michael. I've added it to the LibraryLookup generator page.

It's been almost a year since I started the LibraryLookup project, and it seems to be cruising along nicely. Rarely does an opportunity arise to demonstrate an idea -- in this case, the protean utility of the RESTful Web -- in a way that's easy for people to latch onto, and that delivers immediate value.

Yesterday I spent an hour on the phone with a Microsoft architect, reviewing the whys and wherefores of Longhorn's Avalon presentation system. At one point, he referred me to an Avalon-enhanced demo that was shown at the PDC, and asked: "How could you not want that experience?" Point taken. It seems obvious that everybody would prefer a more dynamic, more interactive application.

Here's a counterpoint. A while back, a librarian wrote to me asking how she could integrate her OPAC with LibraryLookup. I investigated and found that her vendor's implementation was based on a Java applet, and there was no way to link into it. As I mentioned to Eric Rudder and Don Box at a meeting in Redmond, this librarian later posted to a mailing list that her OPAC couldn't support LibraryLookup because it was built on the "wrong kind" of software, where "wrong" meant -- though she wouldn't have called it this -- non-RESTful. For her, the richer experience of that Java applet was a poor tradeoff, since it precluded LibraryLookup's lightweight style of integration.

It's too early to judge whether Avalon will involve us in such tradeoffs, and if so how to mitigate them. But it's certainly something worth having a conversation about. We're dealing with a whole ecosystem here, and we need to think in those terms.

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